It’s the joy of six for a much improved Lions side

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MIKE New believed Lions would eventually find their feet in the British Basketball League - and how right he was.

The Lions head coach watched his side record another two wins at the weekend, extending their winning run to six games as they continue to bridge the gap on the Championship play-off places.

Plymouth Raiders and Essex Pirates were the latest to suffer defeat at the paws of a Lions side almost unrecognisable to the one which won just once in the eight matches prior to their incredible recent revival.

Lions’ improvement is set to be severely tested against Cheshire Jets and Glasgow Rocks over the next few days, but New’s men can do nothing but beat the teams in front of them - and at the moment that’s exactly what they’re doing.

Win number five of the run was against a Plymouth side who had beaten Lions twice when the two sides met in Devon earlier in the season - perhaps an indication of just how far Lions have come.

It was a close one though as the away side pushed a Travis Nelson inspired Lions all the way before going down 101-100.

Nelson had a massive night of 33 points and 13 rebounds to give Lions the edge, supported by 28 from Shawn Myers and another 17 courtesy of Demarius Bolds, as Raiderss had Evaldas Zabas to thank as he kept them in the contest with his 30-point haul.

Raiders controlled much of the first half as they took the lead at 17-22 as Colbert Jr scored 11 and Zabas had seven. Demarius Bolds was single-handedly keeping the home side in it, and his three tied the score at 25. The American hit 12 points in the first session - but Lions trailed 29-32.

A fast start to the second then saw Lions take the lead following consecutive Nelson slams, but it wouldn’t last very long as Raiders rattled off a rapid eight points in 30 seconds to lead 39-49.

Raiders maintained a cushion through to half time, but had to withstand a flurry from Lions as Myers and Yorick Williams found the net in the last two minutes to make it 51-57 as Raiders scored on the buzzer.

But New’s men came charging out of the blocks after the break with a Myers triple during a 12-0 burst, including dunk after dunk from Nelson, giving them a 63-59 lead after only two minutes.

Raiders hit back to tie the game at 67, and the teams continued to swap the lead right up to the end of the third quarter when Lions held the advantage at 82-81.

The visitors took the lead back with a three-pointer from Zabas to open the fourth period, but the game was tied again at 88, and it looked like nothing was going to separate the two sides.

In the middle of the final period the teams could only muster one basket in two and a half minutes - that coming from Kris Clark to see the hosts up 93-89 - and Lions entered the last three minutes of the game with a 95-89 advantage.

Jerome Gumbs made a valiant effort for Raiders but Lions were now controlling the tempo when Nelson scored from a Bolds dish to make it 97-93 heading into the final minute.

Zabas hit a pair of free-throws with 41 seconds remaining for a one possession game. But hopes of a comeback were dashed as Chez Marks was called for a foul stopping Nelson’s certain basket, and he and Myers sent their side through the century mark from the free-throw line, securing the win, despite a late Raiders score.

Nelson was the star of the show for Lions on Friday, but 24-hours later it was all about Stefan Gill as he scored 41 points to help his side to a comfortable 105-74 win away at Essex.

Pirates have lost all 20 of their games this season and were just no match for a Lions squad that could afford to take it easy. Bolds scored 17 and Myers added 12 as the nearest the bottom side got was 28-30.

The weekend ahead promises to bring a tougher challenge for Lions though as they first host a Cheshire Jets side who may now be sitting fourth in the table, but have spent much of their time on top of the pile. On Sunday Lions head north to tackle third placed Glasgow Rocks.